My mom’s waiting in the glass-walled library because I asked her here. But now I’m embarrassed, ready to run and hide.
My mom’s not embarrassing, not at all. It’s me. Half way through my first semester at college, I wake up screaming. Meanwhile, my roommate cries all the time.
Last night I dreamed that surgery-gone-wrong had attached my organs outside my body. The lower intestine? Disgusting. I had to wind it up like a hose and duct tape it to my hip. I heard sniffling and scratching and woke up to find Monique crouched naked, surrounded by empty candy wrappers and gobbling up another Cadbury bar, cream oozing out.
Through the glass doors, I see my mom talking to Robert Peterson, who dresses like a banker. He also uses an unlit pipe for a prop. It’s impossible to fit in here. People prize their own superiority so much that the social atmosphere stinks of five thousand geniuses stacked on totem poles.
My mom has gotten Robert to laugh for real. I’ve only seen him fake-laugh. It’s getting dark and the rain hits in horizontal sheets. I better go in, before she makes Robert laugh again. She hurries over to hug me, not caring that my clothes are soaked.
Shit, did I really push my hand in her face? Like: “Halt!” She doesn’t care; she’s touching my shoulders and saying how much she loves me and I’m shrinking back, gritting my teeth. “Quit talking. People can hear.”
We stay at a “Bed and Breakfast,” meaning someone’s house, which creeps me out, but anything’s better than the dorm. Without my roommate weeping and eating, I sleep late. My mom’s already dressed and reading The New Yorker.
“They left out muffins and coffee for you.”
“I’ll eat later. Whoa! It really felt good to sleep.”
It’s stopped raining and the fog is chest high. I ask her if we can walk back. “Before I have to reconfigure myself into that capsule.”
She smiles her sympathetic smile. “That bad?”
It’s great to be outside. We trudge along hills swathed in fog—no distinct sun in the sky, just this thin, tight light. My mom says she’ll remember this, the trees dripping and sighing in the cold, fresh, highly condensed air.
“We could be walking back a hundred years,” she says, “or ahead.”
“We could end up anywhere.”
And then my mom says the perfect thing. She says, “What if we end up someplace we can only find in our minds? When we’re off guard.”
Wouldn’t that be sweet? My mom and I wandering off somewhere unguarded, and until then, undiscovered.